Robert sat in the kitchen with his back against the wall. The door to the living room was just to his right, and his naturally-enhanced senses seemed to have little trouble hearing into the other room. It was made even easier by the volume of the two women on the other side… two women, he would have liked to point out, who were arguing over his future.
“He needs this, Cassie. And he isn’t a child anymore.” That was Robert’s mother, defending his right to choose his own destiny. He found this kind of ironic, since he’d heard it was normally the parentthat was over-concerned with the child’s choices, and not the aunt. “Besides, I want him to know that I trust him to make the right decisions.”
“You know the destiny she foresaw, Donna.” That was Aunt Cassie, a.k.a. Wonder Woman. She seemed very concerned with Robert’s choices. The ‘she’ that she mentioned was his mother’s extra-dimensional doppelganger Dark Angel… Robert’s surrogate mother for more years than he liked to remember. “I don’t want to give the boy a complex, but do you really think letting him go out on his own is a good idea?”
“Raven said he’s ready,” Donna replied, and Robert smiled a little. He missed his Aunt Rachel. He’d been with her longer than he had been with his own mother. “She trained him, so she should know.”
“No offense to Rachel,” Aunt Cassie continued, “But she hasn’t been the most… reliable member of the club over the years.” Robert knew what she meant by that, and it made him frown. He would have loved to get angry at that comment, after all Aunt Rachel hadn’t always been in control of her own actions given her father’s constant interference in her life, but in deference to her and the nature of his powers, he suppressed his anger as much as he could.
“Cassie, I appreciate your opinion, but he’s my son. I won’t lose him again.” Donna had spent most of her life thinking Robert was dead. His sudden reappearance had filled her with joy, only to have him taken from her again. Now he was home, and Robert knew she did not want to give him a reason to run away. Not that he would… he loved Donna despite their real lack of familiarity. “And her power over him is gone. Rachel confirmed that.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion.”
Robert didn’t want to hear anymore. He was so sick of this argument. The two have been having it for days, ever since he announced that he wanted to try his hand at crime-fighting. It was the family business, and he had power, and he not only felt a need to prove himself, but he had hoped that he could seek some redemption for the cursed destiny that hovered over his head.
His mom had agreed, hoping that it would help him find some purpose. She also, he knew, hoped that it would help socialize him a little. Aside from Madison, Robert didn’t know many people in his own age group. And Madison and he only socialized when Donna took him to visit the “Bat-Family.” Robert was pretty sure those visits had a similar agenda, anyway.
So fine… Aunt Cassie wanted a second opinion. Mom wanted him to socialize. Fine! Robert floated silently across the kitchen and up the stairs to his bedroom. He would have walked, but he didn’t want to risk either of them overhearing his eavesdropping. Hovering into his room, Robert threw off his bed-clothes and summoned his uniform onto him… a simple trick but one he was certain his Aunt Cassie would frown upon. She seemed to disapprove of him using any of his magic at all.
Looking out the window at the night sky, Robert pictured a building he’d been too a few times with his mother, closed his eyes, and wrapped himself into his cloak. The room went black as he stepped into the shadow dimension between the mortal plane and Azeroth. As he crossed the infinite distance, a wave of magic struck him like a solid wall, sending him reeling back into the frozen darkness. He reached out a hand and pushed himself forward, fighting to reach his destination. He stepped out again, unusually cold and feeling as if someone had walked over his grave. Opening his eyes again, he looked up to see the entrance to the Brownstone of the Justice Society of America.
Something wasn’t right. Robert could sense it… time. He’d lost time. His movement should have been instantaneous, but he’d been gone for a while. A long while. Possibly days. His mom and Aunt Cassie would be going crazy by now. That conversation… how long ago had they been arguing his future? And now… he was in his future. A few days, at least. That just didn’t make sense. Time meant nothing in the shadow dimension…
Stepping through the door, suddenly aware that he was unaccompanied for the first time, he felt himself move through an invisible wall of energy placed there years before to prevent unexpected, unapproved teleportation. Once in the lobby, however, he immediately stepped back through the blackness to his destination. This time there was no strange force against him, and he opened his eyes to see Doctor Mid-Nite’s infirmary. But the good Doctor was not in. That was strange… the good Doctor was always in….
Trying to remember his way around, there were too many places he hadn’t been to just teleport, Robert started searching the Brownstone for any sign of the Society. Finding no one, he began to grow concerned. “This is not right,” he said to the silence around him. Refocusing, he began to feel confusion and emotion coming from another individual somewhere nearby in the building… somewhere near the… Sanctum! Of course… where else would they be?
Lifting off from the floor, he grabbed his cloak and began floating towards the JSA conference room. Something was wrong, and even if it wasn’t, he still had a lot of questions. It was about time, Robert thought, that he got a few answers.